A Big Banana Cake

by Asif Ali
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THIS IS A CAKE for a time when the house is filled with people when its arrival at the table will be met with cheers. It’s a three-layer cake, filled and frosted with a billowy mix of cream cheese and spiced cookie spread—a splendid match—and topped with chocolate shavings or pearls, colorful sprinkles, or even sparklers if you like. I’ve grounded the cake with some whole wheat flour and more brown sugar than white, given it a touch of sharpness by using sour cream, and gone deep on allspice. Allspice is a warm spice and so good with banana. Allspice is a little peppery (it’s also known as Jamaican pepper) and calls to mind cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Save your soft, speckled bananas for this—you need 3 or 4 of them. If they are ready before you are, pop them into the freezer to hold them until cake day.

I like this cake plain, but it lends itself to add-ins; see Playing Around.

FOR THE CAKE INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups (272 grams) all-purpose flour 1 cup (136 grams) whole wheat flour 2 teaspoons ground allspice 1⁄2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces; 226 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200 grams) packed brown sugar 1⁄2 cup (100 grams) sugar 2 large eggs, at room temperature 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 13⁄4 cups (420 ml) mashed bananas (from 3 to 4 overripe bananas)
  • 1 cup (240 ml) sour cream or full-fat Greek yogurt

FOR THE FILLING AND FROSTING

  • About 3⁄4 cup (6 ounces; 170 grams) cookie spread, such as Lotus Biscoff
  • 3 ounces (85 grams) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons; 41⁄2 ounces; 127 grams) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature
  • 41⁄2 cups (540 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk, plus a little more if needed
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Chocolate shavings, chocolate pearls or any kind of sprinkles for decoration (optional)

TO MAKE THE CAKE

: If your oven is large enough to hold three 9-inch round cake pans on one rack, center the oven rack; if not, position the racks to divide the oven into thirds. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour the three cake pans, or use baker’s spray. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper.

Whisk both flours, the allspice, salt, and baking soda together.

Working in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter and both sugars together on medium speed until light, smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed. One at a time, add the eggs, beating for a minute after each goes in. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the vanilla, then the bananas.

Turn off the mixer, add half of the dry ingredients, and pulse to begin blending them in. Add the sour cream or yogurt and, working at low speed, mix to combine. Turn off the mixer again, add the remaining dry ingredients and then beat on low to finish mixing the batter. Divide the batter evenly among the three pans and smooth the tops.

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